By now you’ve probably seen the 30-man roster for Team USA’s run to the World Championships this Summer in Denver. If you haven’t, below is the final list by position. Note that it did not match up all that poorly with my predicted team (it’s really close in places).
I’ll run through who made the cut officially, which players/positions saw some surprises selections or snubs, and what could be Team USA’s biggest weakness!
Photo Credit: Craig Chase
Attack (7) - Ned Crotty, Marcus Holman, Kevin Leveille, Brendan Mundorf, Rob Pannell, Steele Stanwick, Garrett Thul
Midfield (7) - Kyle Buchanan, Dave Lawson, Matt Mackrides, JoJo Marasco, Paul Rabil, Max Seibald, Drew Snider
SSDM (4) - Matt Abbott, Dan Burns, Kyle Harrison, Jeff Reynolds
F/O (1) - Chris Eck
Defense (8) - Mitch Belisle, Jesse Bernhardt, Tucker Durkin, Michael Evans, Joe Fletcher, Kyle Hartzell, Brian Karalunas, Lee Zink
Goalie (3) - Drew Adams, John Galloway, Jesse Schwartzman
Why It’s A Good Team
The Attack unit is not a shocker. Lots of talent at the position, and lots of guys who can get it done. Pannell and Stanwick emerged as likely ball handlers, and Holman and Leveille will provide a great finishing touch down low. Garrett Thul is emerging as an unstoppable force, and Ned Crotty is a diverse and dangerous player who can attack from multiple angles. Brendan Mundorf is working his way back from an injury.
I am also not shocked at any of the Midfield selections, although my group looked a little bit different. Kyle Buchanan is a lot like Crotty in that he is diverse and dangerous from numerous locations on the field. Dave Lawson has size and a good shot off his dodge. Matt Mackrides looked like he was a two time Tewaaraton winner at times in the scrimmage. JoJo Marasco is moving on, and so is Paul Rabil, now that he is healed up. Max Seibald (like Crotty, Rabil, and Mundorf) is a holdover from 2010 where he was an All-World player. Drew Snider is fast, and provides a different type of dodger being smaller and shiftier than some of the other mids.
Team USA has sorted their SSDM position separately, so I will too. Matt Abbott was a lock from Day 1. Dan Burns and Jeff Reynolds are two more rock solid guys with good speed, a nose for GBs, and an ability to produce in transition. For me, Kyle Harrison is a total wild card as a SSDM, and I love his inclusion on the team at this position. He may not defend as well as Abbott, but his transition and offensive game off of broken plays can not be overlooked.
For F/O guys, it’s Chris Eck and no one else.
The Defensemen selected were a mix of veterans, tough guys, and younger studs. Mitch Belisle, Lee Zink, and Kyle Hartzell give the team a nice leadership group. Mike Evans and Tucker Durkin provide rock solid physical play and can muscle with a guy like John Grant Junior. Joe Fletcher, Jesse Bernhanrdt, and Brian Karalunas provide athleticism and an ability to close or LSM.
Three Goalies made the cut as well, and Drew Adams, Jesse Schwartzman, and John Galloway are all hanging around. This might be the hardest position to pick for anyone, coach or commentator.
My Surprise Snubs
All five of my attackmen are still on the team so I have no issues there. If only the rest of this had worked out the same way!
I’m really shocked that Jeremy Sieverts didn’t make it to the next level. He’s big and can dodge against anyone. Guys like Paul Rabil and Dave Lawson will fill that role instead, and while I like both players, I was sure that it was Sieverts’ time.
I’m also really surprised that either Matt Striebel or Stephen Brooks didn’t make the next cut. Both showed they can do more than shoot, but they can also shoot like few others. Where are Team USA’s outside midfield shooters? Other than Rabil (and maybe Buchanan) I don’t really see them. I am also shocked that Stephen Peyser didn’t make the next round. He is such a do-it-all player and tough athlete.
When it comes to defense, I was WAY off. I nailed it with Karalunas, Belisle and Zink (those were easy!) but missed out on a lot of the rest of the guys. I thought Brian Farrell was dominant all over the field, and that he was a guarantee to make the squad. I also liked Kyle Sweeney and thought his takeaway play would push him over the top. Then again, Petro is not a big takeaway guy, unless he’s playing, so maybe these “riskier” players were not the best predictions. I like the guys they picked up, but I’m still shocked Farrell wasn’t part of that group.
There are still three goalies on the roster, but Kip Turner played extremely well in the Champion Challenge. I couldn’t separate the keepers myself, so I have a hard time complaining here at all. Only one face off guy? That’s a surprise, but I do like Eck!
The Biggest Head Scratcher
Paul Rabil and Brendan Mundorf are two of the best lacrosse players on the planet. Jesse Bernhardt was a staff favorite and is a freak athlete who can play anywhere on the field. All three play lacrosse like I can only dream, but somehow I have a problem with all of them making the 30-man team. I know, I’m a crazy person, but allow me to explain.
This US team tryout process has been longer than any other national lacrosse team selection process ever. The rules about dress codes, showing up on time, coming to every event, etc. have taken on military levels of regimentation. Players were expected to show up and go 100% at every moment… unless they were injured superstars or a staff favorite. Do I have a problem with this? Oh, you bet I do.
You see, a team that is built on drilled down detail also relies on that structure to see success. Everyone pulls in the same direction, keeps up a united front, and everyone shares the blame and the fame. This works really well when everyone has been through basic training, but what happens when the guy who was watching basic training joins the squad? What happens when three of those guys join the squad?
When a coach says “we’ve all been through hell to get here,” and you look around and see three guys who didn’t go through that same hell, feelings can arise, especially when a long tryout was supposedly required to fully see what the guys had to offer. When a staff asks for complete consistency from their players, but then doesn’t act the same way, leadership can be called into question.
Now, do I REALLY think some of the guys on Team USA will question the inclusion of the three injured players? Honestly… I actually do think it’s possible.
The guys on Team USA want to win gold, and they want to follow the lead of Head Coach Richie Meade because he is a leader and he has earned it. I’m not calling any of that in to question. Not one guy on the 30-man roster will say a word about Rabil, Mundorf, and Bernhardt making the cut either. They know better than that. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some resentment present at some level. And when you’re battling Canada in OT, you don’t want any of that crap in your system.
If there are any ill feelings, they could be worked out quickly because Rabil, Mundorf, and Benrhardt are all hard workers and great players. They will show up when healthy and be ready to give it their all. That can go a long way. But if injuries come back and they stay on the team, or if they don’t make a rapid comeback and make the team, this issue could come up again. It’s not a killer, but if I have one concern about Team USA right now, this would be it.
Selecting Team USA is an incredibly tough job. The staff has selected a diverse group of players though, and I like their selections based on what I have seen and heard. The injured players issue is a real one, but something that can be overcome. The next cut is down to 23-men. Who the heck do you cut? I’d wager one pole, two attackman, one goalie, and three midfielders. Beyond that, who knows who is going to Denver? The coaching staff, that’s who!